This species is known from the central Andes of Colombia, from Cauca, Huila, and Tolima Departments, where it occurs between 1,950 and 3,000 m asl. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 8,090 km²
Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in montane forests and subpáramo (Bernal 2005). It can be found on the ground near streams and also in open areas. It has not been recorded from anthropogenically disturbed habitats. The tadpoles develop in streams.
Before 1999 this was a common species, but it has only been recorded twice since then (once in 2001 and once in 2003) despite several searches. Since 2003, however, there has been little survey effort within the range, and no information is available on current population status; therefore, it is not known if declines are ongoing (O. Cortés pers. comm. August 2014). However, it is apparent that a serious decline has taken place in the past.
The major threats to this species likely include chytridiomycosis, which has been implicated in catastrophic population declines in many other montane species of Atelopus, and habitat loss due to agricultural expansion (including the planting of illegal crops). Water pollution from agriculture is also a threat to the species. Climate change might also be a threat, but this needs to be investigated further.
This species occurs in the Roncevalles protected area (O. Cortés pers comm. August 2014). Further survey work is urgently needed to determine whether or not this species still survives, and if so, whether it has been exposed to chytrid fungus. Additional habitat protection is also needed in view of ongoing habitat loss.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Atelopus simulatus. In: IUCN 2014